Episode 420: Pamela Parker of JP Parker Flowers – on combining full-service retail & event florals with an Indiana flower farm, plus, our state focus: Oklahoma
September 25th, 2019
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I recorded this week’s episode while I was attending the 2019 Society of American Florists conference on Amelia Island, Florida. Before I left on this journey, I remember thinking to myself: “I will find a great guest for there to invite onto the Slow Flowers Podcast. And guess what? That is exactly what happened.
On my first morning there, I was seated in the back row of a presentation on editing photos for social media. I struck up a conversation with a woman next to me as we compared notes on Instagram. I leaned forward to look at her name badge and read: Pamela Parker-Tucker, JP Parker Flowers, Indianapolis, Indiana. “Pam, I exclaimed, It’s so nice to meet you – I’m Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers.”
I had a pretty good idea that she would know who I was because we have a mutual friend, Jo Ellen Myers Sharp, a long-time professional colleague and friend through my garden writing life. Jo Ellen is a popular Indianapolis garden writer, editor and columnist. She had told me about Pam Parker, a very successful florist in her city who also owned a local flower farm.
Well, once we figured out our connection, Pam and I continued the conversation. That led to her joining me today on the Slow Flowers Podcast.
Here’s a bit more about Pam’s story, excerpted from J.P. Parker Flowers’ web site:
After working in the floral industry for thirteen years in Minneapolis, Pam returned to Indiana to live on the family farm. A third generation farmer, Pam developed her love of flowers and growing from her deep Indiana roots. J P Parker Flowers was born when her sister, Janet, became her first employee. They began growing flowers such as sunflowers, alliums and zinnias on the family farm. While Pam enjoyed growing flowers, she missed the corporate and event floral work she had been involved in Minneapolis. She had produced major projects for clients such as General Mills and as a personal designer for the Pillsbury family.
In 1986, Pam decided to follow her passion and return to event and corporate flowers.
As you’ll hear us discuss in this episode, JP Parker Flowers made its local debut in the event industry by decorating Indianapolis’ Historic Union Station.
The executives of Union Station invited a handful of talented designers from across Indiana to compete for a highly sought after opportunity to design and decorate the venue for the Holidays. With nothing more than a mind full of ideas and a briefcase in hand, Pam beat out the competition and landed the contract. In a few short months, she and Janet assembled a makeshift team, and they handily completed this enormous task.
With the well deserved recognition for their décor and design work at Union Station, JP Parker Flowers truly began to blossom. Among their décor accomplishments: the Pan Am Games and the 100 year anniversary of the Columbia Club. After opening a storefront first in Franklin, Indiana, they then branched out to their Indianapolis location in 2008.
Success with numerous corporate clients soon led to weddings and after several exciting years Pam felt she had come full circle when she returned to Union Station to produce a large event for Super Bowl XLI in 2012.
Pam is still the owner of JP Parker Flowers, but the crew has grown to 26 talented designers and dedicated employees. The goal of JP Parker remains providing beautiful custom designs and excellence in customer service with a personal touch.
On top of all this, J. P. Parker Flowers is deeply rooted in Indiana’s agricultural history. Part of Pam’s heart and love of flowers resides at the family farm, where literally thousands of flowers grow each year. The farm is full of beautiful field crops during the growing season. In addition to sourcing local flowers from the Parker Family Fields, JP Parker Flowers buys from other area flower farmers, too.
I’m delighted to welcome Pamela Parker to our Slow Flowers Community – as she has just joined us as a new member.
You can find and follow JP Parker Flowers at these social places:
JP Parker Flowers on Facebook
JP Parker Flowers on Instagram
JP Parker Flowers on Pinterest
Thank you so much for joining me today and learning from a very experienced retail florist who has built her entire business on the origins of flower farming.
The fact that I came to last week’s conference with no guest lined up for today’s show . . . and that I miraculously found myself there, seated next to someone who I’ve been wanting to recruit into our community, well, that was pure kismet. Pam referred to her “luck of the irish woman,” so I’ll claim that for myself – I’m ¼ Irish, after all.
You never know where and who I’ll bump into my next guest – and it could be you!
Our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – continues today with Terri Barr of Wild Lark Farm. Located about 30 miles northeast of Tulsa, in Claremore, Oklahoma, Wild Lark Farm’s tagline is: SEASONAL CUT FLOWERS FROM THE HEART OF GREEN COUNTRY
Wild Lark Farm is a small family farm committed to growing specialty and heirloom flowers. By using a mindset of sustainability, Terri is focused on the best of what Oklahoma has to offer – from mid-May to the end of October.
She says: “Flowers are what we love to do. They lift spirits and bring joy to countless lives, and we are honored to be a part of it. All of our flowers are grown using organic methods which promote a healthy environment for both people and pollinators. In keeping with the nature of Oklahoma farmers, we strive to make the land better than we found it.”
Thanks so much for listening today! You can find and follow Wild Lark Farm at these social places:
Wild Lark Farm on Facebook
Wild Lark Farm on Instagram
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THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS
Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community
FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at www.farmersweb.com.
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.
Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of family farms in the heart of Alaska working together to grow and distribute fresh, stunning, high-quality peony varieties during the months of July and August – and even September. Arctic Alaska Peonies operates three pack houses supplying peonies throughout the United States and Canada. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com.
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.
Glass Beads; Betty Dear; Gaena
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In The Field
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